LinkedIn: People follow People

This blog post is dedicated to all of you working in the communications, corporate affairs, PR or Digital Marketing functions, especially if you’re in charge of managing your company’s LinkedIn profile.
Today’s post is entitled “People follow People” for a reason and you should consider this an intervention. Are you ready? (Lean in close.)

No one cares about your company profile page on LinkedIn.

A very common mistake among many companies is that they produce content for LinkedIn as if their presence there were the same as the Careers page or the Press Release section of their corporate website. And that, somehow, regular LinkedIn users will be so attracted to their brand that they follow their official company profile pages.

But here’s the truth. LinkedIn users don’t use LinkedIn to look out for corporate messages. I’ve said it many times before: LinkedIn is a social network. People use LinkedIn to hear from other people. Let’s take an example right here in Singapore.

Singtel’s official LinkedIn page has over 138,000 followers

Singtel is one of the most prominent and successful companies in Singapore and arguably one of the most powerful telecommunications companies in the world. (I worked there for a few years myself.) It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Singtel’s company profile page has over 138,000 followers, a pretty decent number for a market the size of Singapore.

Let’s look at the profile of my old boss, Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO Consumer Singapore and Group Chief Digital Officer. I can’t really tell how many LinkedIn connections Moon has because LinkedIn will only display “500+” but I can see that Moon has 1,947 followers for his blog posts and other content.

LinkedIn profile of Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO Consumer Singapore

Now you’re thinking, “I don’t get it, Miguel. 138,000 followers versus less than 2,000 followers? How can you say people don’t care about company profiles?”

Well, as anyone who operates any kind of subscriber-based business will tell you, it ain’t about the number of users, it’s about the number of active users. Observe…

The Singtel page posts this partnership signing photo and gets 87 Likes. Moon uses the exact same photo, adds his own comments, and gets over 100 Likes. (That’s right: over 100 Likes, plus 2 comments, more than the official Singtel page’s post even though he only has less than 2,000 followers. Meanwhile, the Singtel page has over 138,000 followers…and all they could attract for almost the same content is 87 Likes?)

Here’s another example. Singtel posts a video interview with Moon about 5G, which gets 66 Likes. (Remember: 66 Likes out of 138,000 followers.) Moon posts the exact same video and gets five times as many Likes: over 300!

Those are just two examples. If you stalk Moon on LinkedIn (like I do) you’ll notice his personal content consistently outperforms content posted by the official Singtel page. But let’s be fair. This isn’t Singtel’s fault.

AirAsia CEO’s personal LinkedIn page has over 400,000 followers while the official AirAsia page has less than 300,000 followers

Let’s look at another powerhouse Asian company. The AirAsia LinkedIn page has over 298,000 followers. CEO Tony Fernandes has over 400,000 followers. And just like Moon, Tony’s posts consistently outperform the content posted by the official AirAsia page, even when the content is the same.

AirAsia posted this photo from their Careers Day and got 303 Likes, 5 Comments. Tony posts photos from the same event and gets twice the number of Likes, three times the number of comments.

The Virgin Atlantic LinkedIn page has over 152,000 followers. The Virgin Group’s LinkedIn page has close to 155,000 followers. Anyone want to guess how many followers Richard Branson’s personal profile has? Over 15 million followers!

One final example to demonstrate that LinkedIn users prefer following people over companies, let’s look at LinkedIn itself. The official LinkedIn company page has 6.5 million followers, their CEO Jeff Weiner has over 9.3 million followers. Yes, the LinkedIn CEO’s personal profile outperforms the official LinkedIn page on LinkedIn.

Don’t communicate from behind a logo.

So if there’s a lesson in all of this, here it is. If you want to use LinkedIn to project an image for your company, whether it be about your management culture, your CSR initiatives, your cutting edge technological innovations, your embrace of diversity and inclusivity, etc etc…don’t talk about this from behind your corporate logo.

Speak through the people who bring your company values to life: your leaders, your employees. Don’t invest just in your corporate page. Invest in and develop the spokespersons, the thought leaders within your company. They are the best messengers you could ever ask for.

I want to come back to Moon’s profile because, in my opinion, every company in Singapore – private, publicly listed, government-linked, whatever – should really emulate how Moon makes use of his LinkedIn presence. Yes, he is sharing news about the company he leads, but he does this through the lens of his personal experiences and especially his interactions with his team. That’s why his posts, day after day, are about the people he works with and the common values they share.

People don’t follow logos. People follow people.

If you need help with content creation and want to know more about how to build up profiles of your business leaders and corporate spokespersons on LinkedIn, contact me or anyone from the Black Marketing team.

Watch the video version of this blog post.

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